05:28am Saturday 14 December 2019

Pan-European Protection from the Health Hazards of Tobacco

The European Commission recently started a public consultation on the revision of the Tobacco Product Directive 2001/37/EC. It will be discussed which further measures should be taken to improve tobacco control as well as the protection of youth, and consumers in general. To contribute to this process, the German Cancer Research Center recommends the European Commission to introduce standardized packaging, to prohibit any tobacco additives and to continue the prohibition of smokeless tobacco products, as presented in upcoming report “Improvement of youth and consumer protection by revision of the EU Tobacco Product Directive 2001/37/EC”, which condenses current scientific evidence. Karl-Heinz Florenz, member of the European Parliament, estimates that this is an important step to prevention: “We have to do all that is possible to prevent our youth from starting smoking. Moreover, I support a revision of the tobacco additives and flavours, because we urgently need a comprehensive pan-european legislation for additives.”

Packages are an important advertising tool for the tobacco industry. Its appealing designs attract consumers and target special groups – in particular young people and women. A standardized package would not only deprive the tobacco industry of an important advertising instrument, but provides a cost-effective means of information for tobacco control.

Additives and flavours not only make tobacco products more appealing – in particular for young people – but they make smoking easier and more addictive. The tobacco industry uses up to 600 different substances such as flavours, humectants, or colorants as tobacco additives. They account for about 10 percent of the cigarette’s weight. In order to better protect youth and adult consumers any additives in tobacco products should be banned.

The marketing of certain smokeless tobacco products is prohibited in the European Union with the sole exception of Sweden. Smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine, cause damage to health and are addictive. They may facilitate tobacco dependence of young people. To protect youth and health, the existing ban of smokeless tobacco products in the European Union has to be maintained.

Every year tobacco kills about 100 000 people in Germany and more than 650 000 people in Europe. “This enormous harm is legitimate reason to introduce all legal measures appropriate to curb tobacco consumption”, says Dr. Martina Pötschke-Langer of the German Cancer Research Center.

The report as well as a high resolution picture of a standardized package can be downloaded at: www.tabakkontrolle.de.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany and is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers. More than 2,200 staff members, including 1,000 scientists, are investigating the mechanisms of cancer and are working to identify cancer risk factors. They provide the foundations for developing novel approaches in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. In addition, the staff of the Cancer Information Service (KID) offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public. The Center is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (90%) and the State of Baden-Württemberg (10%).

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